Petroleum hub requires strong regulatory body

Abigail Asolange Harlley

The proposed petroleum hub requires a strong and comprehensive regulatory body to make government’s vision a seamless reality, Abigail Asolange Harlley-CEO of AI Energy, has said.

“The establishment of a coherent, comprehensive and clearly-defined regulatory framework that will spell out the roles of both government and the private sector is crucial to achieving a sustainable petroleum hub,” she said.

Speaking at the 2019 edition of the Ghana Energy Summit, which came off in Accra this week, Ms. Harlley explained that such a regulatory framework must establish a regulatory authority “to ensure that the vision of government is achieved, and also coordinate project stakeholders in a seamless function”.

Speaking on the theme ‘Ghana’s Petroleum Hub Project: The Dream, Opportunities and How to get There’, as part of the first panel, Ms. Harlley, noted that the dream of a petroleum hub, when actualised, will really grow the oil and gas sector from upstream all the way to downstream looking at the opportunities available there.

“From the private perspective, among the benefits a hub will create is the synergies such as joint ventures, strategic collaborations, alliances between private institutions, between private and public and local and international businesses, to take advantage of these opportunities,” she added.

She called for tax breaks for private businesses that want to venture into the petroleum sector to help make the hub a success.

Ghana has been hard at work trying to turn the country into the sub-region’s petroleum hub by 2030. Expected to cost US$60billion, the hub – which is expected to be established in the Western Region – will include refineries, petrochemical plants, power plants, light industry, waste and water treatment facilities, storage facilities, and business and residential centres.

With a location scouted and feasibilities being undertaken, industry analysts believe that the hub should not just create jobs but also establish a sustainable means of refining local crude, create the environment for synergies between public and private to flourish, and unify all three spheres of the petroleum industry: upstream, midstream and downstream.

Government is currently conducting a feasibility exercise, drafting a policy framework, and establishing a corporation for the hub among others. These, according to him, are the various blueprints currently unpinning the establishment; and he therefore called for a collaboration between government and the private sector.

The Chief Executive Officer of the African Energy Consortium, Kwame Jantuah, explained that the hub upon completion is estimated to create about 750,000 jobs. “We need to build capacity and engage with countries in the sub-region having similar thoughts of a petroleum hub,” he said.

Isaac Osei, Managing Director of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), also stressed that the business of government is to create the necessary enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.

“I believe that the business of managing enterprises is not in the domain of government. Government’s role is to create an enabling environment that allows private sector operators to succeed. Also, government is to provide the regulations which govern these entities.

“I’d be very happy to see investment in TOR from private equity, so that they can take over the place and run it so I can exit quietly. That is the thing we should be thinking about. Investment should be done by both private and public; but for management of the system, I believe the private sector is best-equipped to do that,” he added.

The two-day summit addressed the opportunities and the way forward in the energy sector, and the role of local participation and how to make it a reality and not just paperwork.

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